Monthly Archives: November 2019

Donald Trump’s Death Cult

In August of 2005, a time that now feels like ancient history, we began to notice the effects of climate change. A massive hurricane, generated by increasingly unstable weather patterns in the Atlantic slammed into the Gulf Coast. It was the deadliest day in American history since 9/11. According to the most conservative estimates, between 1,245 and 1836 people died. Particularly hard hit was the low-lying city of New Orleans. While anybody and everybody who could afford a car and a tank of gas had already evacuated the city, there were thousands of poor, mostly black people who couldn’t find a way to get out. The corporate media acted badly, running stories, that later turned out to be completely fictional, about rapes and looters, generating a climate of fear and paranoia. It had tragic consequences. When the Bartholomew family ventured north across the Danziger Bridge, looking for food and shelter, they were met, not by a helping hand, but by a hail of gunfire.

On September 4, 2005, several New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) officers including Sgt. Kenneth Bowen, Sgt. Robert Gisevius, Officer Anthony Villavaso, and Officer Robert Faulcon — none of whom were in uniform — arrived at Danziger Bridge in a Budget rental truck. A witness, Kasimir Gaston, described the men as lining up ‘like at a firing range’. Armed with rifles including AK-47s, at least one of which was unauthorized, and an M4 carbine assault rifle, the men opened fire without warning on a family, the Bartholomews, who had been walking to a grocery store and were then sheltering behind a concrete barrier.

Aubrey Huff is a former major league baseball player. While I’ve never heard of him — I no longer follow baseball — he’s worth about 26 million dollars. One would think that Mr. Huff would be a happy, contented man. After all, 26 million dollars is a lot of money for playing a game. I can’t even imagine how I’d even spend that much. Maybe I’d buy a more expensive bike. Who knows. But Mr. Huff is not outside enjoying the mild California weather, drinking good liquor, smoking good pot, now perfectly legal, or standing on a beach somewhere with his surf board catching some rays and waiting to catch some waves. On the contrary, he’s at the gun range, teaching his kids how to kill.

While I live in a fairly wealthy town, I do not know if the majority of wealthy people in the United States are happy, or if they’re stocking up on ammo and canned goods, waiting for the coming socialist revolution. My impression is that the only thing most of them want to talk about is their kids’ hockey games. In any event, Aubry Huff will have little to worry about if Bernie Sanders wins the Presidency. Maybe his taxes will go up a bit. Maybe some of his less fortunate neighbors will get health cares. Maybe the kid who serves him his latte at Starbucks will get a living wage. More likely, Sanders, or Elizabeth Warren, will end up like Jimmy Carter, a one term President stymied by a Republican Senate and the institutional paralysis in Washington. Even in the event of a successful social democratic Presidency, the wealthy won’t have much to worry about. We’ve already had one. Google Franklin Roosevelt. Wealthy people in Kshama Sawant’s district in Seattle haven’t lost their boats or their million dollar condos. So what is Aubrey Huff really worried about?

Personally I don’t think he’s worried about anything. In spite of all the propaganda in the corporate media about “Venezuela,” I don’t think even he’s dumb enough to believe that the United States will put “crippling sanctions” on itself and destroy its own economy. But I think wealthy, right wing reactionaries like Huff want social chaos. In a previous post, I speculated about the connection between the opiate epidemic in red America, mass shootings and climate change denial. It’s not that all of Donald Trump’s supporters believe oil industry propaganda about climate change. I’m sure some of them do, but I also think that just many realize that climate change is happening, and that, like with Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012, it means increasingly unstable weather patterns and more catastrophic weather events. For most of us this is a terrifying prospect. For fascist gun nuts like Aubrey Huff, on the other hand, it means an opportunity. It means they’ll get to shoot people.

In a rare show of Democratic Party unity, both Bernie Sanders’s large online community of supporters, feminists, and establishment Democrats quickly “ratioed” Huff’s moronic tweet. To get “ratioed” on Twitter means that you’ve said something so dumb that the number of negative comments on a tweet far outweighs retweets and likes. Personally I’m skeptical about the effectiveness of the “ratio.” Aubrey Huff seems a little too dense to care. In spite of the number of people who have reported him for an implicit threat against Bernie Sanders, it’s unlikely that he’s going to lose his Twitter account. Twitter will ban obscure nobodies on a whim, but once you get that blue check mark, you could probably tweet about shooting someone down on Fifth Avenue and still keep your account. What’s more, it’s clear that Aubrey Huff isn’t threatening Sanders or his supporters. Sanders, a wealthy white man with a seat in the Senate, is exactly the kind of American who, in spite of politics, conservatives almost always show respect and deference.

So who is Aubrey Huff jerking himself off to thinking about killing?

Not surprisingly, Aubrey Huff’s fantasy involves killing, not a United States Senator, or middle-class political activists, but the same kind of poor, desperate people who were murdered by off duty police officers on the Danziger Bridge back in September of 2005. If you don’t think that’s why these creeps are stocking up on guns, think again. As Albert Camus pointed out in his book The Rebel, fascism always involves both a suicidal urge and the urge to murder. For the Nazis in 1945, the German people were both the master race, and yet losers and weaklings who lost the war to sub-human Slavic Bolsheviks and multi-cultural, mongrelized Americans. That meant not only destroying Warsaw in 1944. It meant destroying Berlin in 1945.

Aubrey Huff’s mind works in a similar way. Note the two step on Americans. First he declares that he will kill his fellow Americans. But then he says that if they’re poor, and in desperate need of food and shelter, they’re not his fellow Americans, probably not even Americans at all. The Aryan Superman of 1941 has became the beaten Germany of 1945. Aubrey Huff, in spite of his money, wants social catastrophe. He wants an apocalypse, a nihilistic dystopia where he and his two kids will get to shoot the poor, hungry, and disenfranchied. Aubrey Huff is a mentally ill, suicidal man, but he’s also a type, a member of a far-right-wing death cult that wants to take as many of us down with them as possible before they finally go out in a hail of bullets.

We need to take their guns.

Reclaiming Your Inner Fascist

This is one of the best pieces of writing I’ve seen in a long time and all perfectly true. But I can’t say too much about it because my parents taught me that it was rude to talk about politics, religion, or the American Empire.

Consent Factory, Inc.

OK, we need to talk about fascism. Not just any kind of fascism. A particularly insidious kind of fascism. No, not the fascism of the early 20th Century. Not Mussolini’s National Fascist Party. Not Hitler’s NSDAP. Not Francoist fascism or any other kind of organized fascist movement or party. Not even the dreaded Tiki-torch Nazis.

It’s the other kind of fascism we need to talk about. The kind that doesn’t come goose-stepping up the street waving big neo-Nazi flags. The kind we don’t recognize when we’re looking right at it.

It’s like that joke about the fish and the water … we don’t recognize it because we’re swimming in it. We’re surrounded by it. We are inseparable from it. From the moment we are born, we breathe it in.

We are taught it by our parents, who were taught it by their parents. We are taught it again by our…

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The Democratic Debate


Joe Biden: I would only hit a woman in self-defense.

Elizabeth Warren: Girls molested by their uncles should be able to have abortions.

Bernie: No Rachel I don’t support the Taliban.

Buttigieg: I’m not going to invade Mexico like Tulsi says. Also, Tulsi supports Assad.

Harris: I know what the word “punked” means, and that makes me cool, and black. I’m blacker than Booker, even though Biden thinks he’s the only black person in the Senate. Really. I’m black. Did I tell you Tulsi supports Assad?

Booker: Did Biden really say he’s black?

Klobuchar: Unlike Bernie I’m not going to staple a diploma to your rotten kid’s ass just for existing.

Yang: Watch me give a surprisingly good prepared talking point to Rachel Maddow’s gotcha question on Russia. Also, I’ll stand up to the Chinese, even though I’m Chinese and shit.

Tulsi: Harris is a liar and Buttigieg is a pussy boy who probably still gets carded. Did I tell you I was in the military?

Tom Steyer: Who am I? Why am I here?

The Irishman (2019)


One of the most criticized aspects of Martin Scorese’s critically acclaimed, three and a half hour epic The Irishman is its lack of a female character with a significant speaking role. In an otherwise rapturous review, for example, Matt Zoller Seitz notes that  “Scorsese’s two greatest Mafia pictures, carve out substantial space for wives, girlfriends, mothers and daughters, and feature indelible lead performances by actresses (respectively, Lorraine Bracco in “GoodFellas” and Sharon Stone in “Casino”) that energize and transform the material, exploding the hero’s lives like the bombs that roast so many vintage cars in “The Irishman.” In the Irishman, by contrast, the most memorable female character, Frank Sheeran’s daughter Peggy, barely has any lines at all. Her main attribute is her silence.

I would argue that Peggy Sheeran’s silence is probably The Irishman’s greatest strength.

For those who are not familiar with the ultimate fate of Jimmy Hoffa, the corrupt, mob-connected President of the United Brotherhoods of Teamsters, it’s a surprisingly representative historical event. Hoffa, who dominated the corrupt world of American organized labor in the 1950s and 1960s, had plenty of powerful enemies. From the Kennedy family, who resented his support of Richard Nixon, to various members of the Philadelphia mob, who preferred his easily managed successor Frank Fitzsimmons, there were dozens of people who not only wanted Hoffa dead, but who were perfectly capable of having him killed. On July 30, 1975, in Bloomfield, Michigan, Jimmy Hoffa simply disappeared. The mystery has never been solved.

We live in an empire of denial. Every time we open the newspaper, or tune into social media, we witness atrocities that we are actively encouraged by a power-worshiping corporate media not to understand. At times, we come across an event like the “suicide” of Jeffrey Epstein, where the corrupt, gangster like nature of our society becomes so obvious that the official explanation not only fails to convince, but feels absurd. After a period of time, most Americans join one of two camps. On one hand, most of us convince ourselves that the event did in fact happen the way the corporate media insists it happened. Eventually we just forget about it. A small minority of us, on the other hand, in the absence of any real investigation by a corporate media, take to conspiracy theories. What’s worse? Outlandish narratives that at the very least allow us to express our belief that “something is wrong” or the corporate media’s insistence that “there’s nothing to see here. All is well.”

Early in The Irishman, Frank Sheeran, a contract killer for the Philadelphia mob who learned his trade murdering German prisoners of war during the Second World War, comes home to find Peggy, his 7 year old daughter, in obvious distress. She had knocked over a shelf in the local grocery store, and gotten roughed up by the owner. Sheeran is rightfully outraged, but winds up making things 1000 times worse. Instead of simply reassuring Peggy that she did nothing wrong, and maybe taking his business elsewhere, he drags her along with him to the grocery store where he not only confronts the owner, but beats him to within an inch of his life. At that moment, watching her father break the store owner’s hand, Peggy realizes that there is something very, very wrong. She has no way of knowing that her father is a serial killer for pay. At seven-years-old, she hasn’t yet acquired the language she needs to express her horror over the violence that he made her witness against her will, but she does make a decision. She will rebel against the evil she knows exists, but can’t find the words to explain. She will say nothing.

As the Irishman proceeds, and we follow not only Sheeran’s bloodstained career, but his growing relationship with Jimmy Hoffa, who Peggy likes, we begin to notice that the language of organized crime, like the language of the corporate media, is designed, not to reveal, but to conceal the truth. Nobody comes out and says, for example, “kill Mr. X.” Instead, a mob boss like Joe Pesci’s Russell Bufalino will say something like “it is what it is. Get that thing done.” When Sheeran takes on a job for Hoffa, to shut down a taxi company that’s chosen to deal with a union that competes with the Teamsters, Sheeran decides to use explosives to destroy their fleet of cars. But he never refers to “explosives.” The term is “candy.” Scorsese’s gift for the visual serves his narrative thrust well. After awhile, we realize that what his characters are talking about has nothing to do with what we are looking at on the screen, that they are speaking in code, in hieroglyphics, that in the world of organized crime, nothing is quite so corrupt as language.

That Frank Sheeran murdered Jimmy Hoffa on the orders of Russell Bufalino is certainly a plausible explanation for Hoffa’s disappearance, but it’s almost impossible that we’ll ever get any kind of independent confirmation. Even if it all went down exactly how Sheeran, who when he made his confession was well into his 80s and obviously senile, says it did, the organized crime bosses he worked for were too smart to leave receipts lying around. Similarly, whether or not a satanic cabal of ruling class pedophiles had Jeffery Epstein murdered in prison to cover up their own crimes — and come on they obvious did — is not something historians will ever be able to write about with any  authority. The truth is gone, forever. Did Allen Dulles and the CIA have John F. Kennedy murdered? Yeah of course they did. Did Army Intelligence arrange the hit on Martin Luther King? Probably. But like organized crime bosses, the American ruling class doesn’t have a habit of documenting their atrocities for future historians. Indeed, the most astounding thing about Watergate wasn’t the fact that Nixon had parts of the tapes erased, but that he made the tapes at all.

So we the people are never going to find out the truth about the monsters who rule us. Nevertheless, like Frank Sheeran’s daughter Peggy, we do have a choice. We can choose not to speak in the corrupt language of the murderers like Frank Sheeran and Russell Buffalino. When Peggy, now grown to adulthood and played by Anna Paquin, realizes that her father almost certainly, Judas like, assassinated the man who had long employed him as a bodyguard and come to trust him, she cuts him off completely. She has no power to avenge Hoffa’s death. She can’t go to the police or the media. She can’t even get the evidence of what she genuinely believes happen, but she can chose to say nothing, to spend the rest of her life as if her father never existed. In the end, her passive resistance hurts her father more than sending him to jail. By not acknowledging him, she flips the script on a man far too powerful, and violent, to openly confront. She breaks his spirit as surely as he had broken the grocer’s hand so many years before.

Albert Camus on why right wingers want global warming

It’s occurred to me that conservatives aren’t global warming deniers. Rather, they know global warming is a reality, yet they welcome it. They’re a suicidal death cult. Catastrophe brought on by climate change means they’ll not only get to shoot people (like they did during Hurricane Katrina), but that their suicidal, life denying impulses will take us all down with them.

This logic has carried the values of suicide, on which our age has been nurtured, to their extreme logical consequence, which is legalized murder. It culminates, at the same time, in mass suicide. The most striking demonstration of this was provided by the Hitlerian apocalypse of 1945. Self-destruction meant nothing to those madmen, in their bomb shelters, who were preparing for their own death and apotheosis. All that mattered was not to destroy oneself alone and to drag a whole world with one. In a way, the man who kills himself in solitude still preserves certain values since he, apparently, claims no rights over the lives of others. The proof of this is that he never makes use, in order to dominate others, of the enormous power and freedom of action which his decision to die gives him. Every solitary suicide, when it is not an act of resentment, is, in some way, either generous or contemptuous. But one feels contemptuous in the name of something. If the world is a matter of indifference to the man who commits suicide, it is because he has an idea of something that is not or could not be indifferent to him. He believes that he is destroying everything or taking everything with him; but from this act of self-destruction itself a value arises which,perhaps, might have made it worth while to live. Absolute negation is therefore not consummated by suicide. It can only be consummated by absolute destruction, of oneself and of others. Or, at least, it can only be lived by striving toward that delectable end. Here suicide and murder are two aspects of a single system, the system of a misguided intelligence that prefers, to the suffering imposed by a limited situation, the dark victory in which heaven and earth are annihilated.,%20Albert%20-%20The%20Rebel%20%281951%29.pdf

A Short Haiku For Bill Gates

In light of Bill Gates’ recent comments and the fact that its a cultural given that we hand free things to billionaires, I’ve written a haiku just for him. While I’ve inverted the normal 5-7-5 format, I think this poem still embodies the spirit of concision that animates the form.

Without further ado:

You have been very lucky,

Shut the fuck up Bill,

And pay your goddamn taxes

What do Evo Morales and Michael Bloomberg have in common?

They both ran for another term in opposition to existing term limits.

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Mayor Michael Bloomberg won the right to seek re-election as New York’s City Council voted on Thursday to extend the two-term limit for elected officials as the city grapples with the global financial crisis.

Bloomberg, a former Wall Street trader and self-made billionaire who was elected in 2001 and in 2005, wants to run again on grounds that his financial experience will be valuable in guiding the city through lean fiscal times ahead.

The 51-member council voted 29-22 to approve the measure. About two-thirds of the council would have been forced out of office under the two-term limit, but they can now run for a third term in the November 2009 election.

Bloomberg welcomed the decision as the “the right choice.”

Aside from that they have nothing in common. Morales vastly improved the lives of Bolivia’s poor and indigenous. Bloomberg gentrified the poor out of New York City.

Do a search for the story in 2008 and 2009 on Bloomberg’s bullying a compliant city council into granting the suspension of the two term limit. Notice how different the coverage is from the coverage of the Bolivian Supreme Court’s decision to allow Evo Morales to run for another term.

I wonder if anybody in the press will ask Bloomberg about it during his campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

Good News and Bad News

The good news: the attempt by Amazon to get rid of Kshama Sawant in Seattle has failed

Seattle’s socialist Councilmember Kshama Sawant declared victory Saturday after later vote tallies powered her dramatic comeback. She trailed by a large margin on election night before passing challenger Egan Orion on Friday.

The bad news: There was a successful military coup against Evo Morales in Bolivia


Was the United States involved? Well the CIA isn’t dumb enough to leave a long paper trail but the United States government has been trying to get rid of Bolivia for decades. Recall that back in 2013 the Obama administration forced Morales’s plane to land in Vienna then detained (kidnapped) him for the evening because they thought he was going to offer political asylum to Edward Snowden.

Bolivia reacted with fury after a plane carrying the country’s president home from Russia was diverted to Vienna amid suspicions that it was carrying the surveillance whistleblower, Edward Snowden.

France and Portugal were accused of withdrawing permission for the plane, carrying the president, Evo Morales, from energy talks in Moscow, to pass through their airspace.

Officials in both Austria and Bolivia said Snowden was not on the plane. The Bolivian foreign minister, David Choquehuanca, said: “We don’t know who invented this lie. We want to denounce to the international community this injustice with the plane of President Evo Morales.”

Recall also that during the Bush years the United States supported separatist movements in the richest (and whitest) regions of the country.

“According to e-mails, between 2006 and 2009, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) poured at least four million dollars into separatist movements” in four of the nine regions of the country, said the left-wing leader.

In 2008, authorities of the Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando and Tarija departments, which make up the Media Luna region, carried out referendums in order to form autonomous governments. The referendum organizers, according to Morales, were connected to separatist efforts.

The charges against Evo Morales you’ll here from pro-coup propaganda is that he violated Bolivia’s provision for term limits and that there were irregularities in the vote.

The first is true. Morales did run in spite of term limits although these term limits (like the ones imposed by the American ruling class in response to Roosevelt) were designed  to prevent a very popular leftist president from running in another election he would almost surely win.

The second charge (that there were irregularities in the election), is almost certainly false.

Washington, DC ― Statistical analysis of election returns and tally sheets from Bolivia’s October 20 elections shows no evidence that irregularities or fraud affected the official result that gave President Evo Morales a first-round victory, researchers and analysts at the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) say. Contrary to a postelection narrative that was supported, without evidence, by the OAS Electoral Observation Mission, statistical analysis shows that it was predictable that Morales would obtain a first-round win, based on the results of the first 83.85 percent of votes in a rapid count that showed Morales leading runner-up Carlos Mesa by less than 10 points.

The Marriage of Maria Braun (1978)


Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 1978 film The Marriage of Maria Braun has a plot that, if not exactly a cliche, has long been part of the vocabulary of American and European film and literature. A hot young piece of ass, think Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind or Barbara Stanwyck’s Lily Powers in the Pre-Code Baby Face, uses her sex appeal to climb out of poverty to great wealth and power. To call her a “prostitute” or a “sex-worker,” however, would be a mistake. She is more like a “sex capitalist,” or a “sex entrepreneur,” a hard-headed businessman who just happens to be a beautiful woman. In many ways, it is the ideal of the liberated woman under capitalism. Sell yourself, but don’t sell yourself cheap.

What makes Fassbinder’s film still worth watching is not only the brilliant camerawork, or the performance of Hanna Schygulla, a tougher, more vital actress than Vivien Leigh and fully the equal of the young Barbara Stanwyck, but the way Fassbinder locates the story in the historically particular setting of the Federal Republic of Germany. In the 1930s, the part of Maria would have been perfect for Marlene Dietrich, the Teutonic Stanwyck, but in 1978 Germany no longer existed. In the east, the Stalinist German Democratic Republic operated under a cloak of secrecy, both western and communist. In the west was the very peculiar Federal Republic of Germany, a far-right wing state set up by Wall Street and the CIA that, boosted by debt forgiveness and Marshall Plan Aid in the days when the American ruling class was far more generous and far more intelligent, was well on the way to becoming one of the wealthiest countries in the world.

The film opens with the marriage of Maria Braun. Maria and Hermann, Klaus Löwitsch, are attempting to tie the knot outside, in the middle of an American bombing. After a bomb hits, and the smoke clears, we see them both, immobile, lying on the ground. Are they dead? We cut to Maria, a few years later, very much alive, living in a bombed out building with her mother. The American occupiers are more obtuse than oppressive, but the times are still desperate. When an American soldier throws a cigarette butt on the ground, a dozen men scramble to pick it up, getting into a brawl for one drag of that precious nicotine. Later, after a group of American soldiers catcall Maria, and she fearlessly walks up to them and declares “you may have the power to say what you just said but you don’t have the right to say it,” one of them apologizes by giving her a package of cigarettes. Now possessing cigarettes, suddenly popular, a light bulb goes off over Maria’s head. Men, and by extension, society as a whole, can easily be conquered by a show of force combined with the right kind sex appeal.

Believing her husband dead, Maria then gets hired at a cafe where German women entertain American soldiers. That German men aren’t allowed inside, and that the great majority of the American soldiers are black, is a testament to Fassbinder’s genius. The club is the mirror image of places back in the United States like The Cotton Club, segregated venues where black musicians entertained white guests, and blacks weren’t permitted as paying customers. Maria begins an affair with Billy, a rather likeable African American soldier more infatuated with Maria than she is with him, but possessing one valuable commodity. He’s willing to teach her English. Eventually Maria becomes both fluent in English and pregnant. The sex scenes are so open and matter of fact, the interracial angle so daring, that I doubt an American director, even in 2019, would be able to film anything like it without a massive backlash, both from the racist far right and the politically correct far left. It would never pass the focus group testing at a Hollywood studio. The far right, of course, would object, not only to the idea that a blond, blue-eyed Aryan would casually sleep with an African American, but that the majority of American soldiers in occupied West Germany seem to be black. The far left would object to what comes next. After Maria’s husband Hermann returns from a Russian prisoner of war camp, unexpectedly showing up right in the middle of their lovemaking, she hits him over the head with a bottle and accidentally kills him. Shortly afterwards, she loses their child in a miscarriage and gets over perhaps a bit too easily. The interracial child would be a bit too inconvenient in the racist Federal Republic of Germany. Was it actually an abortion?

Touched by Maria’s earnest confession of love, Hermann frames himself for the killing and goes to jail for manslaughter. Maria, like Scarlett O’Hara still pining for the chivalrous Ashleigh Wilkes, but possessing the hard headed instincts of a successful capitalist, then finds her own Rhett Butler, an older French businessman named Karl Oswald who’s returned to Germany to reopen the factories he lost when the Nazis rose to power. The scene where they meet is remarkable. Stuck inside a third class railway car, crowded by the frantic, unruly proletariat, Maria bulls her way into first class, bribes the conductor, and introduces herself to Oswald who, while wealthy, is no Rhett Butler, no domineering lady’s man, but an easily manipulated chump who falls in love with the beautiful Teutonic Scarlett O’Hara at first sight. Maria’s idealistic love for Hermann allows her to be especially ruthless. The more money she can make, the more comfortable she can make his life after he gets out of jail. It’s hard to express just how matter of fact, yet how inspired Fassbinder’s staging of their meeting is. From third class to first class, from being one of a desperate, impoverished mob to being an individual with space, with room to breath and converse, it’s an almost magical expression of just how completely our life changes under capitalism when we get money.

But does it really change. Fassbinder is a master of expressing not only the influence of race and class on our lives under capitalism, but just how much capitalism makes us wait. Maria’s rise to wealth and power is effortless. She’s not selling herself to Oswald. She’s merely using him for sex every once in awhile when she gets the urge. As Marlene Dietrich once remarked, “sex for Americans is an obsession. For Germans it’s just a fact of life.” Fassbinder is incapable of imaging the kind of tabloid melodrama puritanical Americans would attach to the idea of a younger woman sleeping her way to the top. Oh that poor innocent victim! That monster is exploiting her! No. She’s exploiting him. Indeed, in gaining the world, Maria loses her soul. The longer she waits for Hermann to get out of jail, the harsher, and more domineering she becomes. She no longer seems to be able to relate to other people as humans, to get out of the role of “girl boss” she’s so meticulously constructed. By the end of the film, when she finally gets paroled, she almost seems like a Nazi. In some ways, since I don’t speak German, I never quite feel like I’m getting as much out of Fassbinder’s films as I think I should be getting. Fassbinder is a highly verbal filmmaker. Subtitles are never quite enough. But there’s no mistaking the transformation of Maria’s speech from the subtle, flirtatiousness of the early scenes to the harsh way she barks orders in the later scenes, and the German language seems particularly appropriate. Girl Boss has become Girl Fuhrer.

Is the film’s narrative arc sexist? Perhaps. But it’s undeniably historical. In the film’s bitterly ironic final line “Germany wins it all,” Rainer Werner Fassbinder, who died in the early 1980s at the age of 37, predicts the future. Where Bismarck, Kaiser Wilhelm II and Hitler failed, a united Germany under Angela Merkel succeeded. Germany now has the third largest economy in the world after China and the United States. With their junior partners the French, they completely dominates the European Union. But will they ever produce another Goethe, another Mozart, or even another Fassbinder? As rich as they get, my guess is “no.”